Is It Time For Your Social Media Health Checkup?
By: Rik Walters 05/14/2014
Is your social media strategy on life support, or is your social media program on-track to achieve your business expectations?
Enterprises today, continue to struggle with aligning social media strategy and new emerging digital technologies, within their overall business strategy. Though it may seem that your social media strategy is performing on all cylinders, I suggest that your team completes a social media health checkup every quarter.
Here's a five-point social media health guide and checklist to assess the pulse and heartbeat of your social media efforts. As you answer these questions for yourself, think about how healthy your company or brand is and – be honest.
Define strategy vs. tactics
Too often, I hear strategy and tactics used interchangeably. We must agree on the differences between tactics and strategy – so let’s clear that up to start.
In The Difference between Strategy and Tactics, Jeremiah Owyang – Chief Catalyst and founder at Crowdcompanies.com – shares that the difference between strategy and tactics, is that strategy is done above the shoulders, tactics are done below the shoulders”.
Strategy is the “what” that answers the question, “What are we trying to accomplish?”
Every business has limited resources and deals with a highly competitive landscape. Your organization may require trade-offs to align your messaging with customers, while positioning against the competition. Effectively navigate within your business constraints, and then build out tactics after you conceive your social media strategy.
This leads us to tactics, or the “how” part of the equation. Clear tactics help you resolve the question, “How are we going to achieve our goal?” – to succeed at your strategy.
A great approach to think about the difference between the two is that the strategy acts as a guide to a set of actions that various departments or teams will undertake.
What's the current “heartbeat” of your social media marketing?
Have you examined your social media marketing activities across platforms including blogs and social sharing? Is your social media marketing health on track to achieve its objectives? Go beyond fan and follower counts to determine your progress. Have you measured your social media reach including earned media?
To track social media-supported sales, you may need to monitor customer engagement earlier in the sales process because social media can influence sales before your monitoring even begins tracking results. Additionally, measure increased brand impact across traditional metrics with the help of brand monitoring. Based on engagement success information, are you using the appropriate social media networks for your campaigns and initiatives? If so, is your social media marketing execution on target.
What's happening in your social media eco-system?
Monitoring your brand reputation is invaluable to track the share of conversation about your company, brands, products, main keywords and even your executives. This should be integrated with your search marketing strategy.
Consider what's happening in the economy and political arena to determine whether you need to adjust your social media tactics. Given that technology drives social media engagement, make sure to incorporate an analysis of new communications devices; more specifically smartphones and tablets.
Are your competitors doing a better job on social media?
Are direct competitors in your niche, top companies in your category, and dominant players in the marketplace doing social media well? What information can you gather from your brand monitoring about them? Are there potential problems behind the scenes that could have an impact on your efforts? If competitors are active on different social media platforms than you, determine why and whether it makes sense to build a presence on those platforms as well.
What are the new developments coming up on the social media horizon?
The social media ecosystem is dynamic and continues to evolve, so it is critical to keep an eye on how potential changes will affect your marketing efforts in the future. Be sure to monitor Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogs, Tumblr and Twitter, as well as location-based services such as Foursquare. You should start testing Google+ for personal use, gaining traction for when it is open to businesses. Given the recent growth trajectory of Google+, it should be in your plans for the future.
What modifications are needed in your social media strategies to ensure continuous objectives are met?
Collecting this information is more than just busy-work. You have the opportunity to use your data to make tactical changes in your social media strategy for the rest of the budget year. Integrate this information into modifications for your editorial calendar and overall business marketing plans. Ensure that your social media activity is integrated across your organization. Last but not least, make sure that you have a list of important tactical social media locations where you need to closely monitor what's going on to ensure that your social media marketing stays on track.
To be effective, you must constantly measure your progress, assess the eco-system of the Web, monitor your competitor’s activities and measure against expectations. Do keep track of new technological developments on the horizon.
Once you've done your analysis, determine where your social media marketing strategy and tactics need to be improved to achieve your goals and adjust them appropriately.
Do you have a regular social media marketing assessment team in place to monitor trends? If not, consider adding tracking tools, and analytics (social EKG) to maintain the health of your social media strategy.
Do you have some success stories, or need help? Connect with me on Twitter at @rikwalters and let’s continue the conversation for your social media health!